"Nobelist Chu on IPCC and emails, “this is a little wart on the overall amount of information”; questions “asymmetric” standard skeptics are held to."
On his optimism for a climate bill: “There are half a dozen to a dozen” GOP Senators in play.
First, the main findings of IPCC over the years, have they been seriously cast in doubt? No….
On balance if you look at all the things the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the body of experts convened by the United Nations to advise governments in responding to global warming] has been doing over the last number of years, they were trying very hard to put in all the peer-reviewed serious stuff. I’ve actually always felt that they were taking a somewhat conservative stand on many issues and for justifiable reasons….
They should be able to say that this is serious science and take a somewhat conservative view. If you look at the climate sceptics, I would have to say honestly, what standard are they being held to? It’s very asymmetric. They get to say anything they want. In the end, the core of science is deeply self checking.
That’s Energy Secretary Steven Chu in his new interview with the Financial Times (regis. req’d).
While the media has gone back to giving equal time to even the most discredited “skeptics,” the Nobel Prize winner in physics understands the difference between real scientists, who sometimes make small, unintentional mistakes but are self checking and self-correcting, and the anti-science disinformers (and their allies in the right-wing media) who just “get to say anything they want,” who intentionally mislead, but keep getting quoted over and over again by the media (see “N.Y. Times and Elisabeth Rosenthal Face Credibility Siege over Unbalanced Climate Coverage“).
Chu pushed back against FT’s repeated efforts to get him to say the IPCC crossed some imaginary line and it’s effort to label cap and trade now “dead”:
FT: What are the prospects, post-Copenhagen, for an energy bill. What do you hope to have in as opposed to out? Is cap and trade now dead?
SC: … I personally think that this is a bipartisan, non-partisan issue. I think there are people on both sides of the aisle who recognize these things. I think what China has done in the last few years is also a little bit of a wake-up call. The fact that they’re now spending upscale $100bn a year on diversifying their energy, pushing energy efficiency, developing alternative forms of energy other than coal, closing their least efficient coal plants. There are 21 nuclear reactors being built in China today. They’re going to be the biggest installers of wind and solar domestically. They also see this as an opportunity. As you develop internal demand you nurture the industries that can also sell abroad. Their leadership recognises that if we continue on the course we’re on, it going to be devastating to China and the rest of the world. They also recognise that this is something which they missed the first industrial revolution, they missed in large part the computer and biotech revolutions. They don’t want to miss this one. That is again something that I think the United States and other countries should sit up and take notice of.
FT: But the political calculation is that you can actually get a serious energy bill and a healthcare reform bill?
SC: I don’t know about that but let me just say: One hopes, yes. Has the administration given up on looking for a comprehensive energy and climate bill? Absolutely not.
FT: Who do you see as the keenest Republican supporters?
SC: I think there are a number of moderate Republicans. Certainly Lindsey Graham [the senator from South Carolina] has taken a very brave stand. I think, without going into details, there are half a dozen to a dozen who feel the way I just spoke. They understand the international context. They certainly know about the climate threat and are very concerned about that. They see this as a way to future prosperity….
FT: If you look at opinion polls now, climate change barely registers. The fear of people advocating cap and trade now, is that because cap and trade looks politically near impossible, what you’ll go for is an energy bill that will have some subsidies for alternative energy and maybe some more nuclear stuff, and that that will be spending your alternative energy political capital for the next two or three years.
SC: I don’t know but I hope not because you can offer these short-term carrots but in the end it’s a comprehensive thing of long term and short term. You need the carrots. But you also need this long term. If I’m going to make a $3-8bn investment – a coal will cost $3bn – that’s going to be around for 60 years, just having a cap that we know by mid-century is going to be around here, will all of a sudden free up capital from banks. There’s money on the sidelines just sitting there, because they say we don’t know when it’s going to be, but in the meantime, since we don’t know when it’s going to be will the banks make loans? Probably not. So we’re in a crazy never-never land situation. Let’s recognise that we’re postponing an inevitability but because of that, we’re falling behind. China is racing ahead, and money is on the sidelines. Money on the sidelines means jobs aren’t being created. So again, in my heart of hearts, this is a non-partisan issue. So let’s get out of the never-never land. The people who are the most uneasy about it, let’s say to them, look we’re sympathetic, we understand that there’s unease. Let’s work through it.
The pundits love to say this has failed, that’s failed, because it’s easy….
The public polls go up and down on this, with Climategate and all these other things. But if you step back and dispassionately look at it, this is a little wart on the overall amount of information. It’s a little bump.
And the FT desperately tried to get Chu to abandon his deep understanding of climate science and the scientific literature (see Steven Chu’s full global warming interview: “This is a real economic disaster in the making for our children, for your children” and Chu: “Wake up,” America, “we’re looking at a scenario where there’s no more agriculture in California). The Nobelist wasn’t biting:
FT: On the climate threat, do you think there is legitimate concern now about the fact that some of the science, even if it’s not flawed, it’s been misrepresented, which has undermined the case in many people’s eyes.
First, the main findings of IPCC over the years, have they been seriously cast in doubt? No…. On balance if you look at all the things the IPCC has been doing over the last number of years, they were trying very hard to put in all the peer-reviewed serious stuff. I’ve actually always felt that they were taking a somewhat conservative stand on many issues and for justifiable reasons….
FT: But as a distinguished scientist yourself, don’t you think that the IPCC crossed the line between scientific research and advocacy?
SC: I don’t think so. My impression about watching them working is that it is one of the things where they have been held up to a very high standard.
FT: In the last three months.
SC: No, since the beginning. Since report number one. Their reports get reviewed. Lots of people are asked to take shots at this in a very serious way that I think is all right because what they’re saying is so important. It has economic consequences worldwide. They should be able to say that this is serious science and take a somewhat conservative view. If you look at the climate sceptics, I would have to say honestly, what standard are they being held to? It’s very asymmetric. They get to say anything they want. In the end, the core of science is deeply self checking.
The core of the disinformers, and their media stenographers, is deeply self-defeating, as it propels us faster and faster towards Hell and High Water and a ruined climate.
h/t The Hill